Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is a serious complication of an infection, which can have devastating consequences if not treated quickly. Every year more than 50,000 people die after contracting sepsis and many thousands more are left with disabilities and life-changing consequences.

In 1999, Tom Ray contracted sepsis at the age of 38. Mr Ray had suffered a cut to his gum during a dental appointment which, combined with a chest infection, led to sepsis developing rapidly. Mr Ray was taken to hospital but it took five hours before his condition was diagnosed. He spent months in a coma and when he woke up, he had to come to terms with the fact that both his arms and legs had been amputated and part of his face was removed.

Mr Ray’s story was made into a film in 2016 called Starfish which explored the devastating impact of sepsis on him and his family.

Mr Ray has called for mandatory training on sepsis for all staff who work within the health service, an initiative which is being supported by the Royal College of Nursing. Speaking to the BBC, Mr Ray said that he wants “to speak for those who can’t”. 

Alongside his wife and Pippa Bagnall, a former nurse and NHS chief executive, he has formed Resilience and Co in order to raise awareness about sepsis and challenge the seemingly fragmented approach to current training.

Symptoms of sepsis can include:

  • slurred speech

  • extreme shivering or muscle pain

  • severe breathlessness

  • mottled or discoloured skin

    Symptoms in young children can include:

  • mottled, bluish or pale skin

  • very lethargic or difficult to wake

  • a rash that does not fade when you press it

  • a seizure or convulsion

    With early diagnosis and the correct treatment, most people make a full recovery.

    Freeths solicitors have considerable experience in representing clients following delays in treatment for sepsis.

    Freeths were able to obtain a settlement of £250,000 in a case on behalf of a widow who sadly lost her husband because of a delay in diagnosis of a severe streptococcal infection which caused multiple organ failure and septic shock. Freeths also secured a £450,000 compensation award for a husband whose wife died following a failure by her GP and the local hospital to diagnose and treat sepsis.

    If you are concerned about care which you or a loved one have received, please contact a member of our national team for a free, informal discussion;

    Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes) 0186 578 1019 carolyn.lowe@freeths.co.uk

    Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke on Trent/Birmingham) on 0845 274 6830 karen.reynolds@freeths.co.uk

    Jane Williams, Partner (Leicester/Nottingham) on 0845 272 5724 jane.williams@freeths.co.uk

    For further information please also visit our website at: http://www.freeths.co.uk/legal-services/individuals/clinical-negligence/

    For more information on Tom’s story, please visit the BBC website; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-48353222